nAmbassador Alam Brohi waxes eloquent about Imran Khan Toshakhana Reference
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) delivered its judgment in the Toshakhana reference against the former Prime Minister, Imran Khan on Friday, 21 October – just five days after he won 6 out of the 7 National Assembly constituencies from KPK, Punjab, and Sindh in the by-elections of 16 October.
The ECP disqualified him during the term of the current National Assembly and recommended proceedings against him for corrupt practices. The reference was sent against him by the Speaker of the National Assembly in August this year on the grounds that Imran Khan sold a few of the expensive gifts given to him by the monarchs of the Middle Eastern Muslim states after buying them at a reduced rate and disposing of them gainfully at a higher price committing acts malpractice.
Imran Khan never denied the facts of the reference. His plea has been that he declared the gifts, had their market value assessed by the Cabinet Division, and paid the required money as per the rules. He has deposited with the relevant departments the receipts of the payments he made to the Cabinet Division and shown the sale proceeds he received in his Declaration of Assets, and paid taxes on the revenue he so earned. His statement is also on record that he spent the bigger chunk of the sale proceeds on the reconstruction of roads and streets in Banigala without claiming any funds from the exchequer. The Election Commission’s detailed verdict which claims to be unanimous has not been released as yet.
Some Legal Luminaries Of The Country
An unconfirmed and unsigned copy of it has been leaked to certain private channels but has not found him guilty of any corruption or declared his act of buying and selling the gifts as unlawful. He has been disqualified for not having declared the revenue he earned in his asset declaration for the year 2019-2020 and found guilty of malpractice basing its judgment on election rules 137, 168, and 174 which deal with matters related to election and the conduct of the electoral contestant.
A good number of the legal luminaries of the country – Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Zafar, Anwar Mansoor, Azhar Siddiqui, and Gohar Ali – view the judgment as weak, flawed, and untenable in the superior courts. In their view, the ECP has no power to disqualify any member unless recommended by a superior court. And that the sentence of the disqualification cannot be imposed without trial of the accused, and the establishment of his guilt in a punishable act of omission and commission by a proper court. In their view, the Commission has overstepped its authority in disqualifying Mr. Khan.
Whether the punishment imposed on Mr. Khan is lawfully justified or whether the Commission has overstepped its authority or not would be scrutinized and decided by the superior courts. The purpose of this article is not to hold Mr. Khan guilty of – or exonerate him from – any act of omission or commission. We leave that to the courts of the law to decide.
Mr. Khan is the most popular leader of the country at this point in time. We avoid discussing whether he would be able to live up to the expectations of the millions of people whenever the elections are held, and he has been voted into power again. This subject is debatable.
Public Awareness And High Expectations
Only time will show the worth of his leadership – free from any undue interference by any institution. What this piece is concerned with is the moral aspect of this episode. Mr. Khan, you claim you had sought power for some lofty objectives.
You sailed to power on the crest of the public appreciation of your rubric slogan of eliminating corruption and freeing the country from the clutches of the corrupt. You could not deliver on your promise within three years and a half. What went wrong and who was aiding the corrupt mafia to dodge the grip of the law is an altogether different debate.
There is no doubt that you put in tremendous efforts to raise public awareness about corruption and its devastating fallout on society. This public awareness created corresponding high expectations. Therefore, your frank admission of failure for one reason or the other to deliver on the previous promise was accepted by the populace notwithstanding the persistent speculations about corruption within the ranks of your teams. Your supporters didn’t heed these allegations. This reflects the love and affection the people of Pakistan have shown for you since 2011 when your political movement picked up momentum.
Mr. Khan, you were the Prime Minister of a country, the leader of a nation. You should have had the pride and dignity of the nation reflected in your conduct. It was much beneath your honor and dignity to sell expensive gifts to earn a few million. This nation has always trusted you placing you on the highest pedestal of honor. We have witnessed this umpteen times with the nation standing at our back.
Imran Khan Toshakhana Reference Moral Omissions
You should realize your mistake and show your remorse for this moral omission. And, you have hurt the pride of this nation for petty gain. You should have excused yourself from accepting these expensive gifts. If this was inevitable, you should have deposited the sale proceeds in the treasury or given them to the Shaukat Khanam Memorial Hospital or the University you are running in your home district or created a new trust for help to deserving students for higher education abroad.
You missed having this singular honor. You owe an open and remorseful apology to the nation. This is morally imperative even if the Commission’s sentence is rescinded by superior courts. Leaders rise and fall with their people. The people have stood by you in thick and thin. They will accept your apology. This will set you quite apart from the political lot we have in the country. Though their corruption is widely known within the country and abroad, they unremorsefully insist to have done no wrong. The Weekender